Citizens’ agenda
Local elections 2019

Cathal Haughey

Fianna Fáil candidate for Clontarf
 

This is a key priority of mine. As someone in their twenties, I simply cannot afford to get on the property ladder in Dublin city. There simply are not enough social and affordable homes being built and this government seem ideologically opposed to building these houses. The solution is for local authorities to take the initiative, identify where social and affordable homes should be built and then begin the building process. There is enough state-owned land to build over 40,000 units. This land needs to be used to build houses on.

 

The more people who are living in new social and affordable housing, the fewer people will have to rely on the private rental market. Rents in Dublin city have become extortionate and I know many people who simply can’t afford to move out or have tried but have had to move back in with their parents. If Dublin City Council starts to use state-owned land to build social and affordable housing, there will be less pressure on the rental market, reducing rents.

 

The homelessness crisis seems to be getting worse and worse and it is a national disgrace that there are over 10,000 homeless people in Ireland and 4,000 of these are children. The lack of delivery on social and affordable housing has made this crisis worse. If these issues were resolved, housing waiting lists would shorten and our homelessness crisis would be alleviated.

 

One only needs to look around their area to see the amount of vacant and derelict sites. On the north side of the city we see sites such as Lawrence Lands, which has been vacant for decades. This 17-hectare site would be perfect for social and affordable housing and despite local and community groups support, has remained derelict for years. Dublin City Council needs to develop sites such as this. There is also a significant amount of derelict properties which are simply going to waste while we have this housing crisis. A significant vacant property tax would incentivise owners of these homes to sell or rent to property.

 

Public Transport is a public service, providing transport for the citizens of Dublin to work, hospitals, schools and other vital services. I was disappointed to see certain Dublin Bus routes be privatised and come under the ownership of private operators. I believe this is a dangerous move away from the notion of "public" transport. Routes should not be scrapped because they are not profitable.

I was disappointed with the NTA’s proposed BusConnects plans that were released last summer. Under these plans, towns and communities all over Dublin were losing their direct buses to the city centre. Some of these communities have had these routes for decades but would now have to interchange and get a second bus or walk considerable distance to get a bus. This will particularly effect elderly commuters and wheelchair users. Under these plans, routes in my area as the 29A, 31, 31A, 31B, 32, 32x, 14, 16, 17A, 27 and 104 were to be removed.

Take for, example, route 14. This serves the people of Beaumont to the city centre; and connects Beaumont Hospital, our north-side hospital, to various other parts of the city. The NTA proposed this bus would be scrapped. I await the NTA’s revised plans and I hope residents' concerns and submissions will be considered. Criticism of BusConnects has itself, been criticised. But it is a reasonable position to argue that public transport be improved, not downgraded.

Congestion on our roads would be reduced if people saw public transport as quicker and cheaper than driving. If are buses and DARTs are higher frequency and there are quicker journey times, commuters will opt for public transport rather than their cars.

 

As stated, commuters need to see the benefits of cycling if they are to be convinced to leave the cars at home. I hear of cyclists every day who say it is more and more dangerous cycling in and out of the city. There needs to be an increase in segregated cycle lanes which would encourage cycling, reduce congestion by getting cars off the road and make cycling safer.

 

This is a very topical issue and I commend young people for bringing this to the fore of national politics. The government simply is not doing enough to tackle climate change. The improvements in public transport and cycling which I have mentioned above will have a positive knock-on effect on our city by reducing fuel emissions. Greater recycling facilities are needed in Dublin to incentivise people to easily dispose of their rubbish in a greener way.

 

I believe waste services should not be operated privately and should come back under the control of Dublin City Council. The cost of waste services is far too high and would be reduced if brought back under control of DCC. This could be paid for by the Local Property Tax, which constituents often say they see nothing to show for. There also need to be more signs and bins put in place to deal with litter and dog poo. There should be increased litter wardens and much higher fines for those found to illegally dump or not clean up after their dog. Regarding dog poo, on community clean-ups we often find dog poo that is put in a plastic bag and tied to a tree. This is actually worse than just leaving the poo on the grass, as the plastic will take hundreds of years to decompose.

 

As stated, we have a housing crisis, but that does not mean we should build on and destroy our beautiful public parks in Dublin city such as St. Anne’s in Raheny. These parks need to be protected and not sold off. Already we see huge problems on the north side, with sports teams unable to play matches in our crowded green spaces and parks. Dublin City Council needs to look to providing more green spaces and maintaining our current ones.

 

The College Green plaza plan has been a failure from the get-go, and a new plan that can be agreed on by all parties must be a priority. Our public parks are enjoyed by many and I would encourage residents to set up or get involved in community groups that organse events and clean-ups in their local parks and greens. I am a committee member of the newly formed May Park Activities Group in Donnycarney and it's fantastic to see events happening now in May Park and the support Dublin City Council has given to this new group.

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